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Thanks to the heroics of co-captain Angela Ruggiero, the Harvard women’s hockey team put away No. 4 St. Lawrence 3-2 in 62:10. Thanks to Nicole Corriero’s four-point effort the following afternoon—which included a hat trick—it was clear that the Crimson was well on its way to victory well before the end of regulation in its 5-1 breeze over the Saints.
The difference in the games was simply Corriero tearing down the iron curtain draped in front of the Saints’ goal in the form of Rachel Barrie, and the effect her performance had on the rest of the team.
“We couldn’t let Barrie be the deciding factor this weekend,” Corriero said.
Behind the stellar play of Barrie, St. Lawrence shut down then-No. 1 Dartmouth in two straight g over a week before. Barrie didn’t let up during Harvard’s overtime victory, stopping 43 shots total before allowing the most important one in during the extra period.
Despite the win, the Crimson had not found a sure-fire way to crack Barrie’s wall of defense. That all changed when Corriero decided to burst out on a scoring tear.
“[Corriero] was on [Saturday]—no doubt about it,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “We were all on today. We wanted to jump on them as quickly as we could.”
Jumping out quickly is exactly what Corriero set out to do and did. With just under five minutes gone by in the first period, she gained possession of the puck near Harvard’s own blueline and took it down the length of the ice by herself, racing down the right side before beating Barrie with a backhanded shot.
“Against a goalie like Rachel, you can’t not score right away,” Corriero said. “Otherwise she’ll get confident and we won’t be able to solve her at all. So it was nice to get some early goals.”
Harvard had more scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize until Corriero again came through to help on a score later in the same period.
After driving through the Saints’ penalty-kill defense, Corriero got knocked face-down to the ice and wound up with a St. Lawrence defender lying across her. Relentless to score, she refused to give up on the play.
“I was on the ground and I could see the puck in front of me,” she said. “I was just trying to swat it and then like an angel descending I see [co-captain Lauren McAuliffe] come in and put it in.”
As the Crimson celebrated the power play goal and the band and fans got on Barrie’s case, you got the feeling that what had seemed like the impenetrable wall the night before had come crumbling down.
“I think [Friday] we started the game kind of jittery—we were gripping the sticks too tight because we realized how important this game was and it showed because we were really tense,” Corriero said. “After we won last night we were able to say, ‘we can beat these guys.’ We didn’t play our best last night and we were able to come out with the win.”
Corriero exposed all the holes in Barrie’s barricade when she blasted a shot from the point early in the second period. The Crimson had just rotated on the forecheck when Corriero gained possession of the puck and quickly scorched an unassisted goal past the Saints’ netminder to put Harvard up by three.
Corriero’s offense also boosted the Crimson defense. By breaking down Barrie, Harvard played more comfortably against the ever-threatening Saints, and sophomore Ali Boe came up with a number of key saves to preserve the lead.
“Whenever a player opens the game up like [Corriero], it make it easier as a goaltender—you can play with more confidence, take more chance, and be more aggressive,” Boe said.
Corriero’s final goal demonstrated how on Saturday she always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. While again on the man-advantage late in the second period, Ruggiero fired a shot from the point—only to find Corriero’s side. Nevertheless, the girl with the golden touch managed to deflect the shot past Barrie for a third time, completing the hat trick.
Simply stated, Corriero had Barrie’s number Saturday, and her performance secured Harvard the weekend sweep over St. Lawrence as well as the No. 1 rank in the nation.
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